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J Appl Clin Med Phys. 2004 Winter;5(1):36-49. Epub 2004 Jan 1.

Anthropomorphic breast phantoms for quality assurance and dose verification.

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Department of Radiation Physics, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd. Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


An evaluation of two anthropomorphic breast phantoms, which have been designed for quality assurance and dose verification of radiotherapy treatment of breast cancer patients, is presented. These phantoms are identical in terms of their dimensions and shape, and composed of several layers of either Plastic Water or tissue-equivalent material. Both water- and tissue-equivalent phantoms include lung- and rib-equivalent components. The phantoms simulate large, medium and small breasts. The value of the phantoms as breast treatment quality assurance tools was assessed by dose measurements with ionization chamber and thermoluminescence dosimeters (TLD), at different points inside the phantom. Measurements were made by irradiating the phantoms under conditions representing the different treatment techniques, found by the Radiological Physics Center (RPC) during its dosimetry quality audits. Most irradiations were performed with the water-equivalent breast phantom. One experiment was performed under consistent irradiation conditions to compare the tissue-equivalent phantom with the water-equivalent phantom. Measurements were compared with the dose estimated by the RPC's manual calculations used to check clinical charts of patients entered in a National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) protocol. Measurements were also compared with isodose distributions generated by a commercial radiation treatment planning (RTP) system. In the homogeneous three-dimensional (3-D) phantom, fairly good agreement (within 5%) was observed at the NSABP dose prescription point between measurements and 2-D dose estimation by manual calculations. At the same dose prescription point, but located in the heterogeneous 3-D phantom, agreement between measurements and a 3-D RTP system was within about 3%. Manual calculation resulted in overestimation of up to 6%. The general agreement between the TLD measurements and the 2-D RTP values was within 3% at various off-axis points, with the exception of a few points far off-axis, near the high-dose gradient region at the surface of the phantom.

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